| Interview by Ronnie |
This is our interview series where we check in on past students who have either attended one of our workshop events or taken part in one of our online classes. Today we're chatting to Rebecca Wiggins of Thirteen Red Shoes to find out a bit more about her work and what she got out of attending our signature workshop in April this year.
Can you tell us a bit about you and your family?
We are a family of four. There's me, my husband and all round sweetest man, Rodney, and our two delightful boys. We strongly believe in the extended family – our parents and sisters play a huge part in our lives, and we see them all as regularly as work and school allow. We live on the island state of Tasmania and enjoy the ruggedness of the island as well as the calm, beauty, and quiet that make it so endearing to all who visit. We spend a lot of our weekends at markets, either the large market held weekly at Salamanca or the farm gate markets which take place on a Sunday. Rodney’s extended family owns the Westerly Raspberry Farm, so his parents are often found at the markets selling berries, and we often visit as the boys love helping out and eating as many berries as they can while chatting to locals and tourists about the farm.
Both Rodney and I are teachers. However, since having children, I have not returned to full-time paid work. We decided early on as a family that we wanted to have one of us at home with the boys, and now that they are at school age, we want someone to be able to attend sporting events and assemblies and to drop off and pick up the boys each day. The interaction with the school is so important; they spend a lot of time there, and we want to be engaged in what is occurring and develop relationships with the teachers and other families. I understand this is not for everyone, but for us, it works, and I can’t see that changing any time soon.
How did Thirteen Red Shoes come about and what do you enjoy the most about running your own business?
Thirteen Red Shoes came about a long time ago when my first son was born. At the time, I was working for a charity organisation – tutoring children who had been ill, were in remission, and were returning to school. I needed a business name for my tutoring, and I came up with this name very quickly. It then went on to become the name of a blog I wrote while School Boy (our eldest son) had his nap each day. Having been into the world of Instagram, the blog is something I no longer do. Instead, Instagram has allowed me to focus on photography and get my creative side out into the wider world. Since setting up my @thirteenredshoesblog account, I started receiving questions about the products in my home. So I decided to set up a little online emporium focusing on a maximum of five curated pieces at a time, ranging from panier boules to Enzo Mari artwork to wooden blocks for children to icelandic sheepskins! It is a treasure trove of delights which is ever changing. Often once an item sells out, I find something else to gather and share. The online business is only tiny, but it is enough for me.
Can you also tell us about the workshops that you co-host with Dearna Bond and the retreats that you are currently planning?
Over the last few years I have been wanting to run a series of workshops aimed at children working with their families in a collaborative experience as well as workshops for adults. I finally decided to take the plunge this year and set up The Little Workshop website. I later approached Dearna to join me with some styling and photography workshops. Since we worked so well together, I started chatting to Dearna and another small business owner and graphic designer about joining me in hosting some slow living retreats as well as long table suppers in Tasmania. Although Dearna and Holly loved the idea, both decided that it was not something they could commit to due to their individual workloads. At a later stage, however, Dearna changed her mind, and we have set about developing our own website called The Island Gatherings. As part of this venture, our plan is to host workshops, walking tours, retreats, and long supper dinners. Although we are only in the infancy stage, we have had two sell-out workshops with more planned for the remainder of the year. We are also hoping to organise a retreat in the winter months, but we are still looking for the ideal location.
Describe a typical day for you.
I am often a slow riser, as I tend to stay up late editing images and starting way too many different tasks that end up taking me well into the night. Most mornings involve a rush out the door as we all head to school. (I would love to say we ease into the day in a calm and serene manner, but this is not the case at all.) I walk the boys to their classrooms and spend time with The Littlest in his classroom every morning, chatting to other parents and children and his adorable teacher who also taught School Boy.
If I am not working, I go to pilates or yoga, which I have grown to need every day in order to feel calm and content. After going to the studio, I often visit my favourite tea house, Pollen, in Battery Point, which is close to home, or I meet The Husband for a quick hot chocolate and catch-up during his break. We spend most of our one-on-one time together dreaming of holidays and where we want to take the boys and how we can afford to travel as much as we would like. (Ideally, we both need a job that we can do from home, but sadly, education is not that area!) I also dedicate a couple hours during the day to gathering images for Instagram, interacting with people I follow, and planning new workshops or following up planned sessions.
After school, the boys and I often have a play at a local park or beach before picking up The Husband. We try to eat together as a family every night, but twice a week I go to a pilates class around dinnertime. Nightly showers and baths, bedtime stories, and talking about our favourite parts of the day have become our little family rituals, and as the boys get older I want to introduce a mindfulness or nightly yoga time to allow them to unwind after a busy day at school. I don’t watch a lot of television, so my evenings are spent getting ready for the next day and reflecting on the day that was and all the things I didn’t get done! I also like to read blogs and books and listen to podcasts – I can't get enough of Serial or No Such Thing as a Fish.
Why were you initially interested in attending our signature workshop?
I am very interested in documenting our life and doing something with the many thousands of images I have captured over time. Each year I try to make a yearly album, but, sadly, I am now three years behind! It just feels so overwhelming sometimes. Primarily, I wanted to attend to learn about photo journalling and memory keeping. I gained this and so much more.
What were the main highlights of the signature workshop for you?
I thoroughly enjoyed the introduction to InDesign and Lightroom as a way to catalogue my images and then create something memorable. I feel as though I need to attend more workshops as well as take part in some online classes. I feel as though I have only just peeked into the doorway! I think a couple of your online classes may be the way to go for me. (And I think I need to get my husband in a masterclass with Trish!)
Did the workshop change the way you approach memory keeping for your family?
It will indeed. I hope to schedule weekly times to download the week's images and to catalogue and tag them. I also have a few projects in mind for this year as well as documenting our summer holiday. Ronnie's story books were such an inspiration. I definitely need to clean out my piles of cards and invitations and gather special belongings in the one place. Ronnie, you are amazing.
What were the three most useful things that you learnt at our signature workshop?
Workshops are not only about the content shared but also about the new relationships formed - I adored being around like-minded people and wish I could attend workshops every month. In addition, I learnt to be confident staying in manual mode on my camera, and I learnt to be organised and diligent in my approach to memory keeping. After all, if I don’t do it, who will?
Looking ahead, what are the stories that you want to document and preserve?
Our daily life – a daily record of what we do now. The mundane, the normal. This changes so quickly, and I feel guilty about the years that I've missed. My boys as brothers and their relationship. Me as a mother in their life...
* * *
You can read the rest of this series here.